17th C. Pumpkin Pie


This historical pumpkin pie is a different creature than the pies we’re used to around holiday tables.

The filling seizes up enough for the pie to be cut into slices, but stays soft and creamier than modern pumpkin pies. For one batch of mine, I used the puree from making pumpkin juice, which has apple cider in it, and really amped up the pumpkin flavor. I also like the inclusion of the ground almonds, because they add a bit of texture throughout the filling. Perhaps the most notable difference is that this old version doesn’t contain any spices. This allows the earthy pumpkin flavors to really come into their own, but it might not fill that autumnal craving for the modern standard. 

Still, I really enjoyed it, and would consider crashing Thanksgiving with a little of this medieval fare.

Recipe for 17th C. Pumpkin Pie

Prep:  15 minutes       Baking: 35 minutes

Makes 1 9″ pie

Cook’s Notes: Although the recipe doesn’t call for any spices, the author may have just assumed the cook would know to add them. Medieval cooks were generally fiends for spices, so if you’d like to include some, feel free! Also, I used some roasted, pureed pumpkin I had leftover after straining out the juices. However, canned pumpkin also works great.

Tourte of pumpkin – Boile it with good milk, pass it through a straining pan very thick, and mix it with sugar, butter, a little salt and if you will, a few stamped almonds; let all be very thin. Put it in your sheet of paste; bake it. After it is baked, besprinkle it with sugar and serve. -Le Vrai Cuisinier Francois, 1653

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 stick butter
  • ice cold water, just enough

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2-3 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar, plus extra for sprinkling over the top
  • 2 cups pumpkin (1 lb.)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 Tbs. ground almonds

 Prep the crust by rubbing the butter into the flour. Add the salt, egg yolk, and just enough water to bring the dough together. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/4″ thickness. Line a pie pan with it, and crimp the edges into a decorative design. 

Combine the warm milk and melted butter. Pour over the sugar and stir until there are no grains of sugar remaining. Stir in the remaining ingredients, mixing the filling thoroughly. Pour this into the prepared (but not prebaked) pie shell. 

Bake at 350F for about 35 minutes, or until the filling seems set. Allow to cool before slicing.



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6 Responses to 17th C. Historical Pumpkin Pie

  1. Margo says:

    So question – could this be crustless? it almost seems like it could!

    • Needs Mead says:

      You know, it probably could, and would be more like a nice side of baked pumpkin to accompany a meal. If it’s a GF issue, I know there are some great GF crusts out there, too. :)

      • Lina says:

        Or substitute a gluten-free flour. Quinoa and buckwheat are pretty good options, and both have a delicious nutty taste. =)

  2. civilservant says:

    The original recipe sounds a little flat to me and I’m wondering if the missing ingredient here might not be apples–either sauced or as apple juice/cider. I’ve made pumpkin soup and apple juice gives the pumpkin flavor a nice lift.

  3. Captain Jazz says:

    This recipe was great, I made the pie as instructed but used a bit of mace, cloves and cinnamon for the filling to give it an extra kick. Thank you guys!

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